May 16, 2007

How adding usability can create marketing relevance

You may have heard: vertical businesses are the new trend for e-commerce - thanks to their natural advantage in niche marketing. While a large scope, horizontal, business can do anything a small vertical can – it is much more SEO/marketing intensive.

The new horizontal stores I see these days always have one thing in common: a lack of relevant content for both browsers and Google. In the past, when metatags were more important, these stores performed well in the search engines. And at the time, they were relevant to what the users wanted.

But as the internet continuously grows; Google continuously finds new ways of identifying the most relevant content for its users. Relevance by itself is not enough for your business to succeed these days – you must be able to communicate that relevance at faster than light. For this reason, it is imperative you match your navigation, titles, and page headlines exactly with what the visitor is searching for.

Sites like this have no chance of advertising via Google anymore - not even for PPC advertising. Why? It is just a laundry list of products; none being named after keywords users are typing in.

How many people do you think are typing in the category headline: ' Skin & body cosmetics'?

Answer: 0

How about the headline on the product page: Indulona Antibacterial


The 800+ customers searching for 'anti aging cream' everyday will never find this store through google; even though, they sell that exact product. Too bad this store didn't conduct any keyword research when planning their information architecture :(

What if your information architecture is just to vast? Well, in that case, I recommend adding another navigation scheme:

Now we have two navigation schemes. 1) clicking on the product names to the left 2) browsing through the category image pages. Remember, different users browse in different ways, take a look at Victoria Secret's website if you want elaboration.

Aside from increasing usability; this type of category page gives you more marketing latitude and opens up the doorway to countless niche markets. In addition, Search engine marketing, and PPC marketing are once again possible to compete in.

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